These very easy vegan fairy cakes are light, fluffy and moist. So easy to make with kids - step-by-step photos show you what to do every step of the way.
Everyone needs sprinkles in their life don't they, and kids are irresistibly drawn to their happy multi-colours (and sugar content!).
For readers from across the pond who haven't heard of a fairy cake, they are quite simply a small individual plain sponge cake which baked in a much smaller case than a cupcake, (you will find specific fairy cake paper cases in supermarkets). They tend to have a thin layer of water icing rather than a pile of buttercream. Sprinkles are mandatory.
They are very easy to make, and fun for children of all ages to help out with. Older ones could probably make the cakes with little help (other than the oven), and little ones will love spooning runny icing and sprinkles over the finished cakes from quite a young age.
📝 What you need
- Dairy-free block margarine (see 'expert tips' below for guidance)
- Plain dairy-free yoghurt (I use plain, unsweetened soya yoghurt)
- Unsweetened dairy-free milk (Any unsweetened plant milk is fine - soya, oat or nut)
- Caster sugar
- Self-raising flour
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Icing sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Sprinkles (check they are vegan)
You can absolutely make these fairy cakes 'by hand' with just a large bowl and a good spatula, and a lot of elbow grease! But some sort of electric intervention does help to get a really fluffy cake.
But a good food mixer, although quite a big investment, really does make a huge difference for very light and fluffy cakes, buttercreams, and also kneading bread or pizza dough, whisking plant cream or aquafaba, and anything else that needs a lot of power. I have this KMix by Kenwood* which is £289 and worth every penny – I’ve had it for over 10 years now and it is really good quality.
And the one other piece of kit I find just so brilliant for making small cakes is a trigger-release ice cream scoop like this one. Just so handy for getting a consistent amount of batter in each cake case, and plopping it in with absolutely no mess. Once you've tried it you will never go back to faffing around with spoons, I promise!
👩🏽🍳 Expert Tips
There are a number of little things that make quite a big difference in vegan bakes, and I've listed them here. You can ignore them all and still turn out a really good bake, but I find these tweaks turn a good cake into a really excellent one!
- Store overnight in an airtight container This makes a really big difference to the softness and texture of vegan bakes. When they come out of the oven and cool, dairy-free cakes develop a bit of a crispy crust on the outside. But for some reason (and I don't know the science behind this), if you put them in a sealed cake tin or tupperware overnight, the moisture is drawn out from the cake into the crust and they become beautifully soft and moist throughout. I know there's not always time to do this but if you do get a chance you will see exactly what I mean - it is magic!
- Use a block vegan margarine (not a tub) This is another tip that will transform your baking. Tubs of vegan margarine have quite a high water content which makes them much more spreadable, but not so good for baking. I tend to use either Flora Plant Butter, Stork Baking Block or Naturli Block which are all really excellent and make a perfect buttery bake.
- Get the cakes in the oven as quickly as possible As vegan bakes tend to use a little more raising agent, it starts to work as soon as it hits the liquid, and creates bubbles in the cake mixture. You do want this to happen, but you want it to happen a) more slowly, so they stay small, and b) in the oven, not on your worktop. SO, two tips in one here - firstly give your filled cake tin a good bash on the work surface before putting it in the oven. This pops the biggest bubbles and brings them to the surface, so the texture of the cake will be more even. Also, as soon as the liquid and flour/bicarb are mixed, time is ticking - get the cake into the tin and in the oven as quickly as you possibly can. If you've forgotten to pre-heat the oven, or the phone or doorbell rings half way through your baking session - just don't mix the wet and dry ingredients until you're totally ready to go.
- Beat lots of air into the 'butter' and sugar Vegan bakes in particular need lots of air to keep very light and sponge-y. It is tempting to mix the butter and sugar until they are just, well, mixed together. But in fact you need to keep going for 2-3 minutes at least, (using a food mixer or electric hand whisk). In that time it will transform from a yellow-ish fairly thick mixture into a very pale, light and soft consistency.
- Check the dates on your self-raising flour and bicarbonate of soda It is easy to forget that flour and bicarb do have a limited shelf life - especially if baking is something you don't do so regularly. It isn't that they will be inedible or bad for you, but just that their raising properties will become limited, which will ultimately result in a flatter, more stodgy bake.
These fairy cakes freeze really well - perfect for making up a big batch for kids lunchboxes or snacks.
The consistency of the icing is a little different when it has been defrosted - for perfect results I freeze just the cake without the icing, but the difference is fairly small so do whatever suits you.
🔪 What else can I bake with kids?
Anyone who cooks with young kids deserves a medal! But these recipes from The Veg Space and other blogging friends are particularly fun and (relatively) stress-free:
- Vegan Soda Bread from The Veg Space - a no-knead, no-yeast bread that's ready in no time and so easy to make, (you can see my 3-year-old's hands mixing the dough in the photos!)
- Lemon and Chocolate Fork Biscuits from Thinly Spread - biscuits you squash with a fork to make a pretty pattern, in two flavours. Perfect!
- Vegan Cheese Scones from The Veg Space - these are always super-popular in our house for picnics and weekend lunches - and no shortage of volunteers to help make them!
- Vegan Strawberry Milkshake Muffins from The Vegan Lunchbox - easy to make, and they have a secret little pocket of strawberry jam in the middle. Perfect for lunchboxes.
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"Brilliant! Chock full of easy recipes and great tips and advice" Hello! Magazine
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Vegan Fairy Cakes
For the cakes:
- 100 g dairy-free block margarine
- 150 g caster sugar
- 100 g plain dairy-free yoghurt
- 100 ml unsweetened dairy-free milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the decoration:
- 100 g icing sugar
- 4-5 tsp water
- sprinkles (check they are vegan)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan) / 325°F / gas mark 3. Line a 12-hole cake tin with paper cases.
- In a food mixer or large bowl, beat together the margarine and caster sugar until pale and fluffy, (this might take 2-3 minutes - keep going!).
- In a small bowl, mix the vegan yoghurt, plant milk and vanilla extract.
- Add these to the mixing bowl along with the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix slowly until fully combined.
- Divide the mixture between the 12 cake cases then bash the cake tin firmly down on the work surface to bring any small bubbles to the surface. Bake for 13-15 minutes until an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack and if possible, leave in an airtight container overnight to decorate the following day.
- Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and add the water a little at a time, mixing well until it has reached a thick, spoonable consistency. You may not need all the water, so stop as soon as it is ready. Spoon a little onto the centre of each cake and push it around with the spoon to spread a little, then immediately cover with sprinkles.